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MIT Technology Review

Graphic Muscles

November 1, 2006

If you don’t want your animated characters to look fake, you need to work on their muscles. Jian Zhang, professor of computer graphics at ­Bourne­mouth University in En­gland, says the key to realism is to build a ­character’s muscles first (left), then add skin. It’s counterintuitive for an artist who has a ­character’s external appearance in mind, but it makes for ­natural­-­looking movements. An algorithm created by Zhang and colleagues combines the muscle­-based model with existing ones based on the movements of skin alone.

Red areas show where muscle models make animated skin look more realistic. (Credit: Xiaosong Yang/Xin He).